Footage has been released showing the intricate underground escape route that Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman used to make his break out of prison over the weekend, so he could kick back and enjoy a beer in peace.
The escape happened during a roughly-50-minute gap between the time when a prison guard gave Guzman his daily medicine to the moment when he was no longer visible on the internal video camera system, according to the Mexican national security commission. NBC News and other news organizations were briefly allowed inside the tunnel Tuesday.
Mexico’s security commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said up to the moment Guzman disappeared, his pacing was considered normal for someone who lives in about five square meters (60 sq ft) with only an hour a day outside for exercise.
The information the USA officials heard isn’t uncommon, the law enforcement official stressed, adding that they had no specific details about an escape but, as is routine, passed along what they knew to Mexican authorities. But the surveillance had two blind spots for privacy – the toilet and the shower.
On Saturday, Guzman escaped through a mile-long tunnel from the maximum security Altiplano prison, 55 miles west of Mexico City.
Guzman, he said, was inside a cell with 24-hour closed-circuit video surveillance and a bracelet that monitored his every move. It likely took a year to build and required help from the outside – possibly Sinaloa Cartel members, who are led by El Chapo.
The cartel has smuggled billions of dollars worth of drugs into the United States and has been blamed for thousands of deaths. When Guzman escaped was in 2001, he evaded capture for 13 years until he was found in 2014.
The tunnel was high enough for him to stand up in and he fled using a motorcycle that had been attached to rails. And while we know now what the finished product looks like via the video, we’re still waiting to find out the most interesting part of the whole vanishing act: how El Chapo essentially commissioned a huge public works project without anyone noticing.
The tunnel stretched for about a mile and ended inside a half-built house.
Ramos asked Castañeda what El Chapo’s escape means for Mexico and Peña Nieto’s presidency.
Officials declined to say whether the prison’s director, who was fired on Monday, was among those released or kept in custody.
Saturday was the second time Guzman managed to escape from a maximum-security jail.
Osorio Chong met with US Ambassador Anthony Wayne, agreeing “to strengthen the coordination and collaboration that exists between the two countries with the goal of recapturing Joaquin Guzman”, the interior ministry said.
For the first time since his latest capture, on February 22, 2014, Guzman was a free man.